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John Rechy – Famous and celebrated Writer

John Rechy – Famous and celebrated Writer

Social History: Los Angeles icon novelist John Rechy, a first-generation Mexican American who has chronicled gay life in America, has been honored many time. Including the Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement at the University of Southern California.

John Rechy has always tried to be truthful in his writing. ”Some people might say that I’m too truthful,” he said.

  • John Rechy, like Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams and Gore Vidal shares a star quality and charisma with the giants of American literature.
  • As my rather eccentric uncle use to ask: “Are you bored or are you boring?”
  • That’s one thing he’d never ask Rechy because this maestro of a great variety of fiction, gay and straight, brings his appetite for life, his gentleman demeanor and his gifts to the written word for all to enjoy.
John Rechy, City of Night, Pablo, Gay

John Rechy at the USC LA Times awards and in publicity shots over the years including front page feature in LA Times Book Review.

John Rechy, social history, gay, la times, books, literature, famous writers

Book covers of  John Rechy’s novels.


This year also marks the 55th anniversary of Rechy’s debut novel CITY OF NIGHT and his recently published new novel PABLO.

John Rechy, City of Night, Pablo, Gay

Pablo – John Rechy’s new novel.


  • The 87-year-old novelist reflected on the extraordinarily negative review of his first novel, published in 1963, received from Kirsch, then a reviewer for The Times. Kirsch so disliked “City of Night,” Rechy’s story about the meanderings of a gay male prostitute through the back alleys and dark streets of America, that he wouldn’t call it a novel, referring to it instead as “a thing.”
  • Kirsch’s son, writer, and critic Jonathan Kirsch presented the award to Rechy.

“Tonight we right that wrong,” the younger Kirsch told the crowd.

John Rechy, City of Night, Pablo, Gay

Scenes of Los Angeles during the 1950s and 1960s. The setting for Rechy’s City Of Night. Clockwise: Burlesque ad; Young gay men in 1950s; Pershing Square; Bar; Broadway, early 1960s; Arcade Theatre on Broadway.

John Rechy, social history, gay, la times, books, literature, famous writers

More Los Angeles settings for City of Night. Clockwise: Burbank Burlesque Theatre; Broadway; Paramount Theatre; Arcade Theatre on Broadway; Angel’s Flight; Greyhound Bus Station.

  • Looking through 1963 newspapers for reviews on Rechy’s debut novel, it is startling to see how prejudiced some of the all-male reviewers were about the novel.
John Rechy, City of Night

City of Night produced vast media attention.

  • Many were closed homosexuals and threatened by the book. As a best seller, CITY OF NIGHTS for months was one of the most read books in the USA.
Chrisswell Predicts, City of Night

Chriswell Predicts and other coverage of John Rechy.

  • Criswell Predicts, a columnist, predicted that City of Night could result in witch hunts and expose politicians in Washington who were leading double lives.

Rechy is notorious for writing letters to reviewers critiquing their critiques. He once wrote to Gore Vidal complaining complaining about Vidal’s praise for a writer’s nasty but witty review of Rechy’s first book.

John Rechy, City of Night

Excerpts from the vast amount of publicity that was showered on Rechy’s genius of literature along with being a star in his own right and a gifted teacher along with being an inspiration to many of hundreds of writers he taught.

  • “Dear Rechy,” Vidal wrote back, “never take these things seriously.” But he does. “That’s what I have,” Rechy says. “That’s the most important thing in my life. My creation. My art. I steadfastly uphold my artistry, and when it is being assaulted recklessly, then I take action.” He once said a writer who negatively reviewed one of his books had “penis envy.” “That review was intentionally malicious, malicious,” Rechy explains. “I have been the object of really nasty comments that have nothing to do with my literature. There was no way I could be courteous with someone who is capable of that. You have to answer in kind, and I did.”
John Rechy, City of Night

John Rechy’s Los Angeles – City of Night – Late 1950s and early 1960s – The Biltmore Theatre, RKO Hillstreet Theatre would be town down. The Orpheum, Lowe’s State and the Los Angeles Theatres still are standing. Los Angeles has one of the few movie palace districts still standing.

  • Has Rechy’s bad boy personality personality mellowed in the years since “City of Night” first appeared in 1963? “I would say I haven’t changed,” he says, “except by the nature of maturity. I’m more intelligent intelligent than I was. More realistic. realistic. But the same attitudes have been refined. A friend was at my reading the other night, and he said, ‘You’re still as angry at things as you were before.’ But my rage is at all the injustices we see. That’s what satire does. A lot of what I’m laughing at in my book is awful.” If Rechy is as fiery as ever, he does, at least, seem more settled. He has taught creative writing at various colleges on and off for four decades and has offered higher level courses in his home for many years.

Across from the Biltmore Hotel. Googies Coffee Shop is gone like the downtown world  of John Rechy’s City of Night. Today, it lacks the edge of the 1950s and is more of a downtown in search of a city.

Celebrate John Rechy by enjoying one of his many novels.

Rechy’s works can be purchased at Amazon.

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